This is the problem when style is your substance. An actual television star can swoop in and do your bit better than you can. Donald Trump has proven that it’s not that hard to express conventional conservative positions with more sass and call it bold fresh thinking. Last September, Christie said Vladimir Putin wasn’t afraid of President Barack Obama, but, “I don’t believe, given who I am, that he would make the same judgment… Let’s leave it at that.” In his O’Reilly interview, Trump suggested he, too, would be able to bend the Russian president to his will by the force of his personality. “Putin has no respect for our president whatsoever. … We have a president who is absolutely, you look at him—the chemistry is so bad between those two people,” Trump said. “I would be willing to bet I would have a great relationship with Putin. It’s about leadership.”
I’ve argued that, despite the possibly fake nature of his campaign, Trump is actually a wonderful addition to the presidential race, because his every word is genius parody of what passes for serious political debate. Christie’s candidacy only makes that more obvious: Stephen Colbert is to Bill O’Reilly as Trump is to Christie. Christie is a northeastern blowhard convinced of his own macho toughness despite going to extreme lengths for the sake of his vanity, and Trump is that with more orange hair. In his campaign launch speech, Trump mimicked politicians who ground their political positions in some heartwarming tale of family struggle by claiming to have humble origins as a real estate heir in New York’s outer boroughs before making it to the “big leagues” in Manhattan. The conversation, per Trump’s recollection, went like this: “Dad, I gotta go into Manhattan. I gotta build those buildings. I’ve got to do it, Dad, I’ve got to do it.” Likewise, in his campaign video, Christie says he’s blunt because his Sicilian mother taught him to be, and that on her death bed she said there were no words left unspoken between them. It is a touching story. One that Christie is rather crassly exploiting to justify screaming at people who dare question him at town halls.